Teaching English Reading in the Chinese-Speaking World: Building Strategies Across Scripts

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The reading strategies were divided into pre-reading, during-reading and post-reading categories. Pre-reading strategies.

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Table 1 below focusses on the reading strategies that teachers encourage their learners to use before the reading process. Such reading strategies are important as they seek to sensitise learners to the text. Table 1 - Click to enlarge. In Table 1 , 6 out of 36 items are pre-reading strategies. The pre-reading strategies comprised skimming the text by first noting characteristics such as length and organisation, to always read the title, subheadings, references and so on, using one's previous knowledge to guess what is not explicitly stated in the text, decide what to read closely and what to ignore, thinking about what one knows to help one understand what one is reading and bringing what you know into what you are reading.

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Four of these strategies seemed to be most preferred, one unconvincingly preferred and the other being least preferred by the teachers. A total of The reason for this response could be that the teachers knew that a title gives direction as well as understanding to what is written or going to be read. It also creates eagerness or lack of interest to read a text. The next two reading strategies that were equally important with The above strategies mention almost the same thing, for example, taking acquired knowledge and using it to relate to what one is reading.

The respondents felt that skimming the text was least important to their classes; hence, One of the reasons for this could be that teachers are not aware that skimming is one of the reading strategies or they know but are not even able to implement it. During-reading strategies. Table 2 below focusses on the reading strategies that teachers claim to teach their learners during the reading process.

Specifically, the focus is on the activities in which teachers engage their learners during reading. Table 2 - Click to enlarge. Table 2 indicates that 20 out of 36 items are during-reading strategies. What this means is that the reading strategies that made up In the during-reading strategy, respondents were supposed to respond to 20 questions. The questions focussed on what teachers did during the reading lessons. The teachers seemed to accentuate to their learners not to leave out parts of the text that they did not know.

This could be because learners would miss relevant parts of the text. The second highest with The emphasis by the teachers on the use of clues when reading could mean that they were aware that clues could serve as guidelines to what learners were reading.

The third strategy, with Re-reading of the text may be beneficial to the learners as they may appreciate the language used in the text. All three of the reading strategies above focus on understanding of the text read. This could mean that the teachers' concern during reading was to influence their learners into comprehending the text more than the other strategies.

The assumption to this response could be that learners from these schools did not have dictionaries, and the majority of these schools are in rural areas where even parents do not understand the necessity of buying dictionaries for their children. The least strategy, with This statement is supported by Post-reading strategies. Table 3 below focusses on the reading strategies that teachers encourage their learners to use after the reading process.

Table 3 - Click to enlarge.

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Table 3 revealed that 10 out of 36 items are post-reading strategies. What this means is that the post-reading strategies made up This could mean that the learners in this district were encouraged to read for understanding by their teachers. It is assumed that the majority of learners in this district should be able to read for understanding if the teachers' assertion is anything to go by. The next strategy, which was equally preferred by the teachers, was 'to think up of questions to test how well learners understand what they are reading'.

The implementation of the above strategy by the teachers could mean that the learners were encouraged to critically engage with what they were reading as well as discovering how much they comprehended. The other reason for encouraging learners to think of questions to test how well they understood what they were reading could mean that the teachers wanted self-sufficient learners who appreciated the importance of analysing and describing the text.

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Discussion of findings. This study sought to establish teachers' understanding and implementation of reading strategies in their classes. The objective was to establish teachers' understanding of reading strategies. The results indicated that teachers understood what reading strategies were.


Teaching English Reading in the Chinese-Speaking World : Building Strategies Across Scripts

However, they were using quite a small number of reading strategies and also focussed on the traditional reading strategies that did not facilitate reading. Similar findings were obtained by Cekiso in a study that was conducted on teachers' perceptions of their reading strategies instruction in a similar context to the current study. Cekiso's study revealed that the majority of teachers were not adequately prepared to teach reading, and they only paid attention to oral reading without paying attention to reading comprehension.

A teachers' knowledge of a limited number of reading strategies has been revealed by a study conducted by Cahoon who observed that reading strategies were not necessarily being implemented by teachers on a consistent basis. The study further established that teachers claimed to implement pre-reading strategies more than during-reading and post-reading strategies. This could be because teachers understood that the title, subheadings and references helped learners get a sense of direction on what was going to be read, and learners became eager to read thereafter. These findings are supported by Beers who concluded that pre-reading strategies help learners think actively throughout the reading process instead of trying to make sense of the text at the conclusion.

Teachers from the selected district seemed to acknowledge the importance of prior knowledge when one comprehends a text. This knowledge, as indicated by Cromley and Azevedo , assists the student when meaning breaks down during the reading process. The findings of the study also sit well with the argument by Fisher and Frey that prior and background knowledge constituted the missing link in effective comprehension.

The skimming of the text proved to be less employed by the teachers. This could be related to the belief that skimming reduces overall comprehension of the read passage as the reader reads only a part of the text Beale However, this seems to ignore the benefits associated with skimming, such as that with skimming there is potential to read more in less time Beale Findings on the during-reading stage show that the three most important strategies employed by the teachers have everything to do with metacognition awareness and understanding of one's thought processes.

The key issues were that teachers discouraged learners from skipping the parts that they did not understand when read. Furthermore, teachers encouraged learners to use clues to help learners better understand what they were reading. Teachers could be encouraging their learners to employ this strategy because they understand that clues give guidance and shed light on what one is reading. In support of these findings, Benchmark Education highlights that other ways to improve comprehension during reading are to make connections, make predictions, make inferences, use context clues, use text features, identify text structures, use graphic organisers to pinpoint particular types of text information and write comments or questions on self-stick notes or in the margins.

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Furthermore, to increase learners' understanding regarding the re-reading of difficult parts of the text that was another strategy that learners were encouraged to use, a strategy that Karpicke, Butler and Roediger found to be both effective and popular with learners.

Conclusions and recommendations. We conclude, on the basis of findings discussed above, that teachers seemed to encourage their learners to employ certain reading strategies. However, very few reading strategies are understood and implemented before, during and after reading. As the majority of teachers were not competent in teaching reading strategies, it is important that teachers undergo a training session on how to teach reading strategies for the purpose of facilitating learners' understanding of text. Teachers' understanding of and ability to implement strategies in the reading process are important skills for them to master as they are the medium to transfer this knowledge to the learners; they can do this only if they themselves are empowered with reading strategies.

Most of the strategies were not understood by teachers and, therefore, their implementation was compromised. We, therefore, recommend that teachers from this district employ and expose their learners to a variety of reading strategies to be able to prepare readers for efficient reading. Overall, for teachers to help their learners develop strong reading skills and habits, they themselves need to improve their own reading skills, and hence the need for teacher training and retraining on reading strategies.

The authors thank the teachers who participated in the study. The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article. Akbari, Z. Beale, A. Beckman, P. Strategy instruction.

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Beers, K. When kids can't read: What teachers can do? Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. Benchmark Education, What is metacognition? Botha, D. Cahoon, B. Cekiso, M. Cromley, J. Cubukru, F. Department of Basic Education, , Curriculum and assessment policy statement Grade : English first additional language , viewed 14 November , from www. Fillmore, L. Fisher, D. Garcia, G. Gill, P. Gonen, I. Laughridge, V. Li, F. First steps in research , Van Schaik Publishers, Pretoria.

Martinez, A. Mokhtari, K. Oxford, R. Paris, S. Duffy Eds. Pressley, M. Reading instruction that works: The case for balanced teaching , 2nd ed.